for the benefit of new friends who are joining this story already in progress,
somewhere around 20 months ago, I adopted a meme from... somewhere, and the challenge was to write 100 public blog posts about something that you chose. I chose to examine my relationship with fitness and building strength, and my problematic headspace around my childhood as a female geek-before-geeks-were-cool, and physical activity.
it turns out that it just took about 22 years to find "my sport", which is DANCING. *grin*
for awhile, nearly 3 years in my late 20's, my "sports" were country dance (English and Irish) and taekwondo. Unfortunately (and of course there is a story there) I injured my knee trying for the blue-belt test (the fourth full-belt level out of seven in that system) when I injured my knee very badly on a particular jumping sidekick. my ACL was damaged, and failed utterly about ten years after I damaged it.
So I walked and danced without a major structure in my knee for about five years before I finally asked for a surgical consult. Found a remarkable surgeon who'd replaced THREE tendons in my friend Brian's knee (motorcycle accident), had my surgical replacement of my ACL 11\1\11 (Nov. 1 of the year I'd turn 42.)
I started doing pre-hab, joined a gym some months before the surgery, and have been pretty consistent in my exercise since that time... Largely because the body HURTS now if I DONT move enough.
eh boring. But I do the work so I can do the fun stuff: dance, go hiking, do yoga, lift stuff up over my head around the new place, take care of things on my own without hurting myself.
Three weeks without a workout, and without going dancing... I've been sick with cold or allergies and am finally breathing reliably, my ear has finally cleared up (I was half-deaf in one ear for over two weeks) and OW. Body is complaining.
Time to get back on the horse. Anyone want to share details of their fitness efforts? I am a student of Health At Every Size, I don't allow anyone to shit-talk their body or their efforts or anyone else's, and I tend to use other measurements than a scale to track my progress.
to start, I plan on trying a double lap walk around the block tomorrow to warm up before running myself through a few quick and gentle yoga routines, because one of my goals is to get back to being able to do shoulder stands, head stands, and hand stands. I loved being upside down when I was a kid, and its a fun, achievable goal in my current state of fitness (even as crunchy and inflexible as my muscles currently feel).
Done anything fun in YOUR body recently? =)
the theme at the gym this month is "to dream"... they want us to join one or more of the classes there, but those don't really meet me where I dream.
I dream of doing handstands (balance and core and upper body work).
I dream of doing the Wheel pose in yoga (backbend like whoa)
I dream of dancing three hours an evening (cardio, and an improved wardrobe so someones will ask me to dance)
I dream of practical strength: to never be the little old lady who can't touch her toes or has to walk with a walker (beyond rehab, should I need it)
I dream of ridiculous strength (like the line from the Agents of SHIELD episode about "if you're hanging out a window 20 stories up, you're gonna want to be able to do at LEAST one pull-up")
I dream of doing things strong people do (& this week I schlepped 50 pounds of birdseed to my car, in my arms and over my shoulder)
I dream of believing, actually really believing, that I am strong. That I can DO things, things that matter.
I dream of working with my body and hands, my heart and my mind.
I still don't know what shape that needs to take, but I will keep dreaming.
there is a distinct lack of full length mirrors in my house. that said, I got a unique opportunity for a paradigm shift today.
hit the gym, worked out with Tal, (poor thing needs a root canal) stretched, showered.
came out from the shower, got partly dressed, and started to comb my hair Cousin-It-style because I am retraining the part to be on the other side...
Brain says, peering through the screen of hair, "wonder who the cute broad in the tankini is?"
it was me. I caught myself in the full length mirror, in tank top and underwear.
pretty much a Banner Day for my self esteem.
Tal also asked had I lost more weight, which I dunno, but I think I've lost *volume*, and gained significant muscle since she and I started working together. She pointed out various examples of my progress since we started working out together.
is a good day.
*sigh* Tis a chunk of change that fortunately, we do have, considering the wood rot extant in the 25 - 30 year old deck.
My point is, I DON'T HURT today. Three hours of pruning and climbing ladders and shifting concrete chunks and whatnot, and I'M NOT SORE.
THIS is what my trainer means by Functional Strength. DANG.
tomorrow will be the fourth day in a row, in a row, that I have willingly gone to the gym and
gotten my ass kicked worked out.
my thighs and shoulders are so sore.
but I was able to do it.
and today was over two hours of yoga, the second hour teaching my old friend some yoga basics. so, go me.
I might be a *little* bit of a masochist.
back to yoga class for the first time in many weeks.
I can do a few things now (what with working out with Tal) that I didn't use to be able for, and a few things I used to be able to do, I can't anymore. Not really surprised.
I do need Capri length yoga pants so I can see my feet and ankles, and these yoga pants go up my butt (grrr) so I think that I will retire them ASAP and pick up something different.
Stretching every morning: added to goals list.
my body REALLY does not like that I have been moving not-much for the last six days.
muscles are sore, joints are stiff. digestion and appetite aren't as robust as usual.
I Do Not Like This. Long walk tomorrow, yoga tomorrow afternoon. Resume workout on Wednesday.
Body be holding me accountable for the workouts. ...not what I expected.
(why I not expected it, I dunno, I should have)
my journal, imma be just a little snarky.
you know the stereotype that goes "oh, she was so lovely... until she opened her mouth and started speaking"...?
oh, that happens with men too.
but I go to this particular dance partly for the exercise, and partly to be around people, and partly to dare myself to continue with a practice that can be uncomfortable and challenging. that includes me or others saying a dumb thing, pushing too hard to do something, being disappointed in some kind of expectations, etc.
it was a good dance. only my second time ever dancing with very energetic Russian boy, second time ever with J who is lovely but presents as shy, and second time with A, who is very very tall, high energy, and very silly. I enjoyed those, very much, as well as lots of momentary people contacts throughout the evening, and my own solo dancing.
oh! and I rode my bike there and back, despite having access to car. Convinced myself that I could tag out when the weather is gray, wet, cold, and miserable on a Monday, but I will try using the bicycle to get to dance on Mondays and Wednesday noon gym workouts, at the least.
I felt really strong coming home tonight.
it felt really good.
Just like two weeks ago when I had that shift where my shoulder released, this week goes workout, massage, workout. Massage was today, and I told Danniel about the progress of two weeks ago on the left shoulder, and asked him to work on the right, and a bit on places where I am sore from yesterday's workout...
working with Danniel feels like Safe Space. He has proved i can trust him. But it is WORK, sometimes more than others... to trust, to consciously relax and let someone cause me PAIN because I know if I can relax, and let him do what he's proved he's excellent at, I will make further physical progress in my struggle to gain full body Strength and Flexibility. (your mileage may vary, of course)
Today was excruciating all through both shoulders, down the pectorals, and through the big muscles that form the armpit, front and back.
part of what makes Danniel so special as a massage therapist is that I... well. I am very vocal during massage. I make a lot of what I know are noises not generally OK in public spaces... and I've never had him make me feel weird or wrong or even an iota uncomfortable for doing so.
and he does deep painful work, and uses my sounds as guides, digging in or holding steady as is needed.
Today there were a few moments where I was hyperventilating because the pain was pretty intense, but I could feel the muscle fibers lengthening and the moment where I conquered the pain by enduring it was the moment that the muscle relaxed and gave in, and then the pain got less. (story of my life in a nutshell, right here.)
I had an odd moment there this morning, where I felt like all the hollering and moaning and groaning was actually deep releases of very old pain, pain from times in my life when it wasn't safe or smart to grieve or express myself out loud. it's being an incredibly valuable experience to VOCALIZE when it hurts, even if, or maybe because, it's nonverbal noise. And because it's safe. I didn't have the privilege of crying with someone there to comfort me till I was well past 30... I appreciate this deeply on account of I didn't get to have it growing up.
I'm proud of myself for doing this healing work even when it's not "fun" or pleasurable. I'm learning to value myself in the physical realm and to do what's needed to take care of and maintain the health of my body.
my goal is to be a spry and flexible and juicy old broad, who laughs too loud and too long, who amuses and offends the neighbors, and who goes on all kinds of adventures with all kinds of friends.
And what I am doing now, is building strength and good habits slowly and carefully, so I can achieve that goal.
Looking cute was never enough motivation for me... but comparing confident and strong old ladies and weak, tottering old ladies at the gym?
well. which group do YOU want to be in?
Best. Motivation. Ever.
I find I can do several things better or easier with the "new shoulders" I acquired this weekend. Yoga today was definitely different. Need to do More Of That before I can be certain, but some new shapes were possible, because the shoulders have opened up.
Dance last night was great! I haven't been in weeks, and Moving However I Want was the exactly correct prescription.
Got gasoline today, washed the windows, thought, "am I *taller*? I feel TALLER..." but it's that now I can easily reach the center of the windshield w/o leaning into the car or standing on my toes.
Doing what I can to protect and continue the new strength and flexibility. Will keep you all posted!
No more "supposed tos," OK, Elizabeth?
You're not supposed to work harder, look better, sleep less, sell more, run faster, talk slower, be happier, stay longer, leave earlier, cook, clean, negotiate, settle, start, stop, move, try, win, shake, rattle or roll.
Other people made all that up.
I love you the way you are,
Thoughts become things... choose the good ones! ®
© www.tut.com ®
Oh, you can do any or all of the above, Elizabeth, you so can, but you're not "supposed to."
**was just saying a lot of I shoulds at myself, and while there are things I can do, and things I need to do, I don't need to beat myself up over it all. Again.
I thought I had a lump in my breast.
Yes, THAT kind of lump.
Turns out I was wrong
thank GODS I was wrong
I didn't let myself have time to react today, to release, to let go of the holding-on I've been doing ever since I first suspected, something like two months ago...
and just finished a HARD workout with Tal... I told her about my appointment and my worries from today, and that I wanted to "sweat out all the stress"... she said, with a grin, "we can DO that!"
and we did.
hells, halfway through, she even made me RUN, like seriously RUN THROUGH THE GYM and around the other people working out, in a loop around the two guys playing basketball, who looked honest to goodness surprised to see this two-and-a-quarter hundred-pound chick pelting after her zippy little 98 pound trainer...
but I kept up. *grin*
Tal *gets* without me saying it that I get all locked up in my head (most of my life) and deep in my bones when we work out... and she pulls out something crazy like this, and it pops me back out into reality.
so, okay, once I stretched out and cooled down, I did wind up in the locker room ambushed by sobs for about a second.
like omg I dodged a bullet there kind of thing
like what am I doing with my life
just this enormous almost panic attack... can you have a "relief attack?"
shuddering, head on the bench, hunkered down, my face in the shirt I'm about to put on...
I'm outside now, baking in the car because I needed to write this down.
the value of being IN the body cannot be measured, and yet I usually take it for granted.
being in the Body fixes some things that the Mind creates.
I want to remember that.
The reason why I am not writing much about fitness recently, is that it has come to just feel normal, an expected part of my routine that feels good to do, not so much something remarkable and distinctly memorable.
I guess that's a good thing. I hope I can maintain this habit. I really like feeling strong, competent and flexible. I like not hurting, and everyday tasks becoming easier. Even getting out of bed is easier, for two reasons: I'm sleeping better most nights, and honestly I just have more core strength.
the toughest part of the whole endeavor is that Jeff and I have different fitness habits. I feel Feelings about leaving him at home to go to the gym and work out, even though it feels good and I enjoy it, and it's helping me work towards my goals?
Guess the closest I can come to describing how it feels is: Divided Loyalties. Harrumph.
well, OK. It helps to put down here what I've been feeling, and I hope that now I can make a more conscious decision to take care of myself in the way that I need.
...still feeling some feelings about this.
but goodnight for now, livejournalists!
Workout day with Tal!
so, on Monday I had a lovely massage, Tuesday I had a very effective yoga class with someone who isn't the usual teacher (& who I like lots more than the usual teacher), and today I got my ass handed to me yet again. *grin*
I have noodles for leg muscles right now. Balance work, core work, work on my shoulder extension, squats with a medicine ball going up, and going from side to side, aerobic exercise and yet more balance work.
Today dovetailed nicely with the yoga and the massage therapy. it all intermeshed as though the three of them had talked together and planned it.
the "new muscle" I discovered today is right above the solar plexus, behind the ribs. Laid on my back on the mat, arms over my head, lifting a weight-bar, keeping abs tight and back from arching, suddenly this muscle engaged and pulled up and long. it felt very interesting! I'm mostly used to thinking of belly muscles as "abs" but this definitely counts, and was helpful in prevention of the arched back that Tal is so particular about.
after the workout I did a bit more stretching and my hips did seem more open, but it was tough to walk back down the stairs! Noodly legs! so I decided to try the sauna.
Dang, that's a nice sauna! I can't believe I've been a member of this gym for a little over a year, and this was my first time in there! (I have been in the steam room, which is ALSO awesome.)
then a quick shower, and I am now home listening to the upholstery cleaner guys doing their thing on our furniture.
still up for today: a planned trip to Goodwill industries to drop off things we are divesting ourselves of. Will need to pack up the car after the guys leave. There's a LOT of STUFF!! Last thought: It will be fun when I am strong and flexible enough, and maybe fast enough, to challenge Tal to a game of tag in the quad at the JCC... there's these beautiful terraced-lawns, that are about stair-step sized... it struck me today that it would be AWESOME to just *play* there. Running around and up and down, and whatever. *grin*
Working out is *fun*.
Tal seems to grok that a) bodyweight exercises are both more appropriate for the shape I'm currently in (ROUND is a shape!) and b) that mixing it up, making each workout different, is the most engaging.
I don't think we have done the same exercise twice yet, barring warmup on the fitness center stairs.
bless her. I admitted I didn't do my homework between Wednesday and today (was supposed to do an hour of something cardio and an hour of yoga, oy, that's a lot!).
She asked, semi rhetorically, "what am I supposed to say to that?" in her slight accent.
I said mildly, "Say, 'do better next time'."
So she did, exactly so.
*smile* I don't know if I will be able to do all of the next batch of homework, she wants me to do two cardio and one yoga (Monday and Tuesday classes I've been trying to attend anyway) so if I can fit one cardio in over the weekend I'll be set.
she also wants me to eat five times a day.
I like how that makes me feel when I do it, so I will definitely try. I'm up to twice today, and I will see how it goes.
Balance work is crucial, I was very weak and noodly-muscled when I tried the various balancing exercises Tal asked me to do. Core strength also needs work.
well, that IS why I'm working with her. Because I know I need help to get back to a habit of fitness and flexibility.
This is the diagnosis phase, where we find out what I'm capable of while simultaneously working to IMPROVE what I'm capable of.
Worked out with Tal again today.
And, seeing that today's Beltane, I brought her a flower. I was the second person to talk about May Day with her, the other was one of her coworkers! heh. I did talk a tiny bit about its original fire-and-fertility festival nature. But not so far as the JoCo song. hee.
Unsurprisingly, she helped me kick my own ass again. Got to try kettlebells briefly, of course I sucked, it was my first time... I'm totally fine with that. Mentioned kittiliscious as a positive example in that department...
I keep surprising her with my flexibility. She keeps surprising me with what I'm actually capable of, and she doesn't let me run myself down at all. Which, I'm surprised to hear myself still doing even in a minor way. i am however, much improved from when I last had a gym membership (around 1999) in the self love and positive attitude departments, so I count that as a win.
I think allanh asked me about Tal's availability for training, she told me today that one need not be a member of this gym to work out with her, Tis just a little higher rate.
homework assignment: keep eating breakfast every day, do something cardio before we meet again on Friday, and catch tomorrow's yoga class.